AMG GT R Porsche 911 GT3 Audi R8 Plus Spyder
LOOK OUT, it’s a GT3 911. As Roger Federer is to Wimbledon, Porsche’s track-ready, road-monstering take on the 911 tends to scoop Sports Car Giant Test wins every time it turns up. In 2015 it was the GT3 RS, whose screaming flat-six this car essentially borrows. Last year the 911R, whose delicious six-speed manual gearbox the new GT3 also borrows, came second to a very special McLaren. And now there’s this parts-bin GT3, set to steal hearts, capture imaginations and – if you can get on The List – do it for not really all that much money, in this rarefied company at least.
Compared to the AMG GT R and the Audi, the Porsche’s engine is nothing special on cylinder count or on power, but in reality it is everything special; free-revving, responsive like a flinch and possessing of such a ridiculously amazing noise you can’t help but wring it out every time the oil’s anything like warm enough. There’s a manual gearbox option too this time around, though our test car has the slick, quick-shifting PDK – all the better for keeping your hands on the wheel and the car between the walls.
AMG’s GT R – so good it battled the 911 GT3 earlier in the year and didn’t lose – is an altogether more convincing version of Mercedes’ misunderstood sportster. In GT S form two years ago we were left baffled by its bulk if impressed by its brawn. The R adds yet more power, drama and noise but also brings a responsiveness that sets the car free. It no longer feels like a cruiser in the wrong test, a wrestler out on the running tracks. But does it feel like the best performance car of 2017?
And here largely because it contains the best engine currently on sale in the world, Audi’s R8 Plus Spyder V10. Bizarrely, the R8 in second-generation form hasn’t yet made it into a Sports Car Giant Test shortlist. This one cruised it, helped no end by its wondrous engine and the undeniable truth that, whatever the purists say, the R8 is an even more bewitching car in Spyder form than it is as a coupe. The prodigiously talented chassis and the way it encourages you to drive a snarling supercar like a Ford Fiesta, that 40-valve V10 with its wildly threshing valvegear, mesmerising reach and glorious music, the thing’s addictive, accessible brilliance – all are enhanced by not having a roof over your head.4
AMG’s GT R; a more convincing version of Merc’s misunderstood sportster – so good it didn’t lose to the GT3 earlier in the year
GT3 and GT R live for track driving; Audi R8 Spyder lives for wanton sensory stimulation